Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-03-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $30,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $53,336
Principal Investigators: Lois Wolfson
Abstract: Problem: In a time where information on any subject is readily available to the public at the touch of a button, it is critical for Universities to be seen as and also serve as reputable and reliable sources of information. Volumes of information exist on the subject of water and can be readily accessed via the internet. However, much of it is unverified, biased or sometimes incorrect. Providing current and documented science based information and ensuring that it gets to appropriate groups is crucial to support good decision-making among citizens as well as law makers. An effective information dissemination program focused on water resources issues should provide multiple mechanisms for transferring timely, accurate, unbiased and current research-based information to user groups and diverse audiences. It should also offer alternative solutions to problems being assessed, and provide multiple mechanisms for implementing necessary steps towards the solutions. The Institute of Water Research meets these needs by constantly expanding and updating its information dissemination and training program, using a co-creative process to develop its decision support systems and programs, and providing user groups with tools for assessing water related problems and issues. Methods: To improve and increase the usability and distribution of information on water resources, programs will be presented in a variety of formats including computer-based programs, on-site demonstrations, publications and group presentations. Specifically, mechanisms will include: (1) developing training sessions, workshops and webinars to help users understand aquatic ecosystems and water quality issues; (2) creating and delivering lectures, demonstrations and power point presentations to user groups, environmental organizations, and students; (3) developing, organizing and co-coordinating technical and non-technical conferences that address current and emerging water related issues; (4) developing web-based interactive programs that utilize geographic information systems, models, decision-support systems and/or new techniques to assess and address potential problems and visualize areas within watersheds; (5) establishing a point of contact at Michigan State University to compile, interpret, and distribute water related information as well as to direct users to appropriate sources of expertise and information; (6) partnering with Michigan State University Extension field and campus educators to coordinate and support programs at the local level and 7) interacting with researchers, agency personnel, other states, and professionals on multidisciplinary issues related to water issues. Objectives: The objectives of this program are to 1) keep current on new developments and issues relating to water and incorporate this information into existing and new programs; 2) develop and present educational programs designed to increase the public's awareness, knowledge and appreciation of the water quality and quantity problems in Michigan and present alternatives in practices or behavior that lead to improvement of the resource; 3) provide hands-on tools and models to address environmental and economic complexities required to solve real world water related problems; 4) address high priority and emerging issues; 5) evaluate the projects disseminated and incorporate lessons learned into new programs; 6) develop programs in a variety of formats that suit the needs of individuals and user groups; and 7) coordinate and develop multidisciplinary projects in a co-creative process with both clientele and associates, including extension educators, faculty on campus, other agencies, environmental organizations, and other Universities in order to make water-related information readily available to a vast clientele across the state.